Police in the Pound area conduct a drug raid Friday.
Law enforcement agencies conducted a joint simultaneous raid of half a dozen small business establishments in Wise County on Friday with a focus on alleged distribution of illegal synthetic drugs.
The Kingsport Times-News was invited to accompany officers at some of the sites during Friday's raids, but information was embargoed until Monday to enable investigators to collect evidence and continue their probe through the weekend.
On Monday Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Ron Elkins said all details won't be ready to share in complete form until later this week, primarily because of the amount of evidence that has been collected and must be processed.
"They got thousands of baggies of product, and I mean thousands and thousands, so we're not in a position to even give details yet," he said. "They've got to process all of that and get it into evidence. I'm talking about the need to log and tag thousands of items."
A few individuals were taken into custody as a result of Friday's simultaneous raids, but only because they were present at the sites and found to have outstanding arrest warrants unrelated to Friday's crackdown, Elkins said. Evidence collected from the raids will be presented to the region's Multi-Jurisdictional Grand Jury for potential future charges against individuals as warranted by the investigation still underway.
The focus of the raids -- illegal synthetic substances -- are sometimes referred to as bath salts and the like. Four of the establishments were in the Pound area, three alongside U.S. Route 23 and one of those located a stone's throw from the Kentucky border. One establishment was targeted in Coeburn and another in St. Paul.
Most of the establishments were tiny swap shops, second or third hand flea market merchandise sorts of businesses, of the lowest profile on the local commerce scene.
For example, the Mountain Trader atop Pound Gap next to U.S. Route 23 near the Kentucky border is little more than a tiny pre-fab shed that could have easily been mistaken by a casual observer to have been a storage shed for a nearby convenience store, or perhaps a construction shed for an adjacent construction site.
Meanwhile, Elkins said a "general statement" will be distributed to the press by Monday afternoon and a formal press conference offering more details will most likely be scheduled for later in the week.
Read more in Tuesday’s print edition of the Times-News or in the expanded electronic edition.